Congress Wrangling Over CHIP, Mandatory Medicare Cuts

On Capitol Hill, Republicans are charging that the health law is encouraging businesses to drop coverage and politicians prepare for the next fight on some of the law's provisions.

The Hill: GOP: Health Care Law 'Encourages' Business To Cut Back Benefits
President Obama's healthcare law gives the country’s biggest businesses a strong incentive to quit offering healthcare benefits, House Republicans said Tuesday. Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee said employers would save billions of dollars if they quit offering health coverage to their employees ... the Congressional Budget Office has said it does not expect an exodus from employer-based insurance (Baker, 5/1).

Politico: GOP: Cut State Bonuses For Children's Health Care
House Republicans want to stop rewarding states for finding and enrolling low-income children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, and public health advocates are livid. The Republicans say it's a smart fiscal move that will better protect the program against fraud; their critics say it's undermining years of progress states have made in identifying and enrolling a hard-to-serve population (DoBias, 5/1).

Kaiser Health News: When Is A Joint Committee Disjointed? 
Over the past two weeks, 18 scathing messages hammering the Obama administration on health care matters have been e-mailed to reporters and congressional staff from an address associated with the congressional Joint Economic Committee – a panel of Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate (Werber Serafini, 5/2).

The New York Times: Fate Of Postal Service Awaits Action In House
Perhaps most significant, the bill would restructure the payments the agency makes into a health benefits fund for future retirees. Under a 2006 law, the agency has to pay $5.5 billion annually into the fund, which the Postal Service said had added $20 billion in debt to its balance sheet since 2007. The House bill differs substantially from the Senate version (Nixon, 5/1).

Modern Healthcare: Legislation To Avoid Mandatory Cuts Awaits Budget Panel
Next week, House Budget Committee members will consider legislation that includes healthcare spending reductions and the repeal of some provisions of the reform law as part of a package to avoid across-the-board cuts to federal programs set to begin next year (Zigmond, 5/1).

JAMA: "Doc Fix" Saves Medicare Payments Again But Takes the Funds From Public Health
It has become an annual ritual: after mandated substantial cuts in Medicare payments to physicians, many practitioners threaten to leave the program, putting the elderly population's health at risk—a scenario averted only after Congress steps in at the last minute and delays the cuts. But this year the ritual is sacrificing funding earmarked for prevention and public health programs, and no one providing health care in any venue appears to be happy about the situation (Mitka, 5/2).

Modern Healthcare: Finance Committee To Seek Provider Input On Fraud Prevention
Senate Finance Committee members plan to issue an open letter to U.S. healthcare providers Wednesday to broadly solicit advice on the best ways to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in federal healthcare programs (Carlson, 5/1).

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